Hong Kong History

HONG KONG HISTORY

The history of Hong Kong is relatively brief compared to other countries in the region such as Japan and China. Although there is evidence of human settlements going back thousands of years, the modern history of Hong Kong did not start until 1842 when China lost the opium wars to the British and subsequently Hong Kong became a British colony. At the time the island was very basic and mainly a fishing port.

During the following decades, Hong Kong flourished with trade expanding at a rapid rate and business sectors such as banking and insurance began to thrive. As the island lacked resources such as water and farmland, the British pushed for more land from China in 1898 and succeeded in obtaining new areas which are now know as the New Territories. Unlike the previous agreement, the New Territories were offered to the British on a 99 year lease set to expire in 1997.

In the early part of the 20th century, Hong Kong managed to escape much of the effects of World War 1 during the period 1914 to 1918. Its` population in the first half of the 20th century expanded rapidly from half a million people at the beginning to over 1.5 million by the 1940s. With the arrival of World War II and the Japanese invasion of China, Hong Kong took in a huge number of refugees from the Chinese mainland as people fled to escape the Japanese onslaught.

In 1941, Japan invaded Hong Kong and after a relatively short period, took over the island. Many atrocities took place during the 3.5 years of Japanese occupation as many people were massacred, women were turned into prostitutes and westerners were sent to newly built concentration camps. After the Japanese surrendered in 1945 following the atomic bombs on Nagasaki & Hiroshima, the British once again took control of Hong Kong.

In 1992, Chris Patten takes over as the last Governor of Hong Kong and after a few years of difficulties between the British and China, Hong Kong once again became part of China in 1997 as the 99 year lease expired. In 1998, Hong Kong opened its` stunning new international airport at Chep Lak Kok on Lantau island where Disneyland also opened in 2005. Although there have been difficulties since Hong Kong was returned to China, the island has continued to flourish in terms of business, its people and the retainment of most democratic rights for its citizens.

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